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Yesterday I saw a question that was two part. The first part was answered in the answer marked as accepted. The second part of the question was answered later in a comment(added after the answer was accepted). In this instance, would it be acceptable to edit the answer so it answers both questions posed in the original question?

It felt like a grey area since the answer was accepted.

Unfortunatly I can only offer this meta discussion on the subject since I can't seem to find the question in question.

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The system positively encourages editing to make things better. Your changes will be recorded in the edit history. The edited answer will get bumped to the front page and 'peer' reviewed.

As long as you are not changing the answer other than to improve it I don't see a problem with it.

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    Yeah, I agree. Were I not just about to get food, I'd have written pretty much the same thing. I've done it before, and make no excuses for it, provided you're not changing the intent of the post, like you say. – Ben Pilbrow Aug 18 '11 at 20:16
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    I think that's a key distinction between whether it's acceptable or not -- in the cooking.SE post @Holocryptic linked to the intent of the answer was changed: That's definitely not OK. Making it better ("better" being a subjective community standard) isn't a bad thing. – voretaq7 Aug 18 '11 at 20:24
  • What @voretaq7 said – Holocryptic Aug 19 '11 at 0:03
  • Your answer seem to reflect the general consensus. I've therefore marked it. Thank you – artifex Aug 19 '11 at 22:48
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Completely agree with the other two except in one particular circumstance. If the original person who Answers a question adds more content to his answer via comments, then it would be ok to edit them into the Answer so it's a single block. This is only consolidating their original content, not adding or subtracting from what they wrote.

  • Definitely - In fact I do this with comments made on my answers: If a comment substantially corrects something I wrote I'll do a <s>strike</s> and replace, and if it adds something critically important I'll edit that into the answer as well – voretaq7 Aug 19 '11 at 3:53
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Editing to improve content (and that really is pretty subjective) is not only OK, it's actively encouraged. However, I don't believe it's acceptable to "improve" content to the point where the point or meaning is altered, regardless of whether it's an accepted answer or not. If you want to make that much of a change it's time to post your own answer.

Having said that, I do have to add that there are times when we edit poorly written questions or answers, generally due to language problems by people who do not speak English very well, with the intention to make the post clearer. It's not always easy to tell if we got it right or not but the alternative is to watch the down and/or close votes pour in.

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I would normally add a comment saying something like "Also see @user's answer below" on the accepted answer, but I generally don't like to edit other people's answers for content myself...

  • I see. This is what i felt aswell. I guess its a broader discussion about community vs the person posting the question in here somewhere. Anyways, i look forward to more discussion on the topic – artifex Aug 18 '11 at 19:50
  • Yeah, that's generally poor form. Editing an answer to fix typos, or maybe style it with numbering or code formatting, but don't add content. – Holocryptic Aug 18 '11 at 19:50
  • @Holocryptic even if the answer is more complete after and the original answer is left completely unchanged just amended? – artifex Aug 18 '11 at 19:52
  • @artifex - I can think of one special-case exception: If the original answer is overtly dangerous without the amendment (and even then it's probably better to flag or downvote) – voretaq7 Aug 18 '11 at 19:53
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    My opinion is that if there is more to offer, add another answer. Or alternatively, ask permission from the original answer-er to make the edit. I've seen that at least once. – Holocryptic Aug 18 '11 at 19:55
  • @voretaq7, in which case deletion is usually the way to go – Holocryptic Aug 18 '11 at 19:55
  • @Holocryptic I really like this approach, to give the original answerer the chance to edit the question. Perhaps you should turn this into an answer. Back to the point of my question: I believe that another answer would be less beneficial to the community (the correct answer would be spread across two answers) – artifex Aug 18 '11 at 20:16
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    @Holocryptic: I believe the philosophy of the network is that content-related edits, as long as they are respectful of the original poster, are more accepted and encouraged than typographical fixes. This is based on the podcasts and early SO blog posts. – womble Aug 18 '11 at 21:42
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    @womble - I can agree with that, but I also think we should encourage the OP to improve their answer and edit it ourselves only when that may not happen (or doesn't happen quickly enough) -- that way the OP gets something out of it too (more knowledge, positive reinforcement for writing more complete answers). -- I've occasionally withheld an upvote until an answer was edited, it's a good carrot :) – voretaq7 Aug 18 '11 at 21:48
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I'm just going to leave this as an example of what NOT to do.

https://cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/14747/tricks-to-preserve-chips-french-fries/14770#14770 (read the edit history)

Edit for typos or visual nicety. Don't change the content. That's what voting and comments are for.

  • I can see the slipperly slope you are refering to. – artifex Aug 18 '11 at 20:12
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    I tend to disagree. Improving the answer is exacty what the edit button is for, not just for spelling, but for content as well. We can deal with isolated incidents as they arise. – Mark Henderson Aug 18 '11 at 20:52
  • I've seen that thread before. Thankfully it doesn't happen that way too often that I see but its a reminder that as good as our system is, when it goes wrong it goes real wrong. – Rob Moir Aug 18 '11 at 22:08
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    @Mark - I agree with offering improvements to an answer. I disagree with attempting to force your edits onto the original owner of an answer by going into a wikipedia-style edit/revert war with them. If something is dangerous then yes it must then be corrected but in that case it should be flagged. – Rob Moir Aug 18 '11 at 22:10

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